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The Delhi High Court today sought the AAP government's stand on a plea challenging validity of a Delhi Assembly rule which permits punishing a person accused of breach of privilege of the House without hearing him. A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Najmi Waziri issued notice to the Delhi government and sought its response to the petition by one of the two persons sent to 30 days in jail by the Speaker for contempt and breach of privilege of the House. The two men were sent to jail on June 28 by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel for throwing pamphlets and raising slogans in the House during a session. The petitioner, Jagdeep Rana, has claimed in his plea that the two were sentenced without giving them an opportunity to be heard on the basis of Rule 75 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, 1997. Rule 75 states that "except where the breach of privilege or contempt has been committed in the view of the House, the House shall before passing any sentence give an opportunity to the person charged to be heard in explanation or exculpation of the offence against him". In the instant case, the Delhi government has claimed that the incident of pamphlet throwing and sloganeering took place in full view of the House and therefore, there was no need to hear the two. The two had initially moved a habeas corpus against their imprisonment.
A habeas corpus plea is a petition which is filed to ensure a person under arrest is brought before a court which will determine whether the detention is legal. However, the court had said that without challenging the rule under which they were sentenced, the twon could not claim their imprisonment amounted to illegal detention. Today, the lawyer appearing for the petitioners agreed with the bench that there was no lack of jurisdiction or illegal detention in the instant case as the Speaker had taken action as per the law in force. "This is lawful detention at this stage," the court said. With regard to the petitioners claim that there was malafide on the part of the legislators who beat them up for throwing pamphlets and sloganeering in the House, the court asked the two, also including Rajan Kumar Madan, to file an affidavit giving an elaborate account of the facts. The bench also suggested to their lawyer, Sumit Chaudhary, to array as respondents the MLAs who had allegedly beaten up the two. With these directions, the court listed both the matters, filed through advocate Pradeep Rana, for hearing on July 26. The Delhi government's lawyer, Rahul Mehra, told the bench that there was no illegality in the Speaker's order which was passed after all the 63 MLAs, including two from the opposition, who were present at that time, voted that action be taken against Jagdeep and Madan. The Delhi government's response came pursuant to the notice issued by the bench on the habeas corpus plea. The two petitioners were also produced today before the court as was directed by it on July 11. The duo on June 28 while sitting in the Visitors' Gallery of the House had hurled pamphlets and raised slogans demanding the resignation of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain. They have also claimed they were allegedly later thrashed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs. The detainees have alleged that the Speaker's June 28 decision was taken without hearing them and therefore, it was "absolutely illegal and violates the principles of natural justice". Seeking their immediate release, they have also contended that under the rules, rigorous imprisonment cannot be awarded. Jagdeep, who claims to be the vice president of AAP's Delhi Unit, and Madan, who says he is part of the AAP units in Punjab and Chhattisgarh, have contended that no reason has been recorded for awarding them such a severe punishment.
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